InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Planning ( Chapter 213 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~~Chapter Two Hundred Thirteen~~

-OoOoOo OoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'All you gotta do is hold him and kiss him and squeeze him and love him ...
'Yeah, just do it
'And after you do, you will be his …'

-'Wishin' and Hopin'' by Dionne Warwick.


Heaving a sigh, Valerie ignored the passing scenery in favor of pinning the driver with an incredulous look.   "You cannot be serious," she said, slowly shaking her head.

Why she bothered, she didn't know, considering they'd been having this particular discussion every day for the last week and a half since he'd so neatly gotten her to agree to marry him—a sneaky move, if she wanted to argue her point, but Evan insisted that it didn't matter how he'd gotten her to say yes as long as she had. All's fair in love and war, or so he'd claimed.  It was all right, though, she supposed, turning her hand slightly as the diamond set in the platinum band shone brilliantly in the sunlight spilling into the car.  After all, she did want to marry him.  She just wasn't too keen on telling people how he'd proposed when and if they asked . . . Naturally, he was, jerk that he could be . . .

Evan didn't glance away from the road.  "You doubt me, woman?" he asked her mildly.  "Of course, I am."

"N-No-o-o-o," she drawled, shaking her head again for good measure and to reinforce her point.  "No!"

"Look, baby, as far as I see it, I'm being pretty damn patient, if you ask me.  I mean, I'd be more than happy to do a quick trip to the local Justice of the Peace, but, being the generous and understanding man I am, I'm willing to meet you halfway and let you have the wedding of  your dreams—in three months—or less . . ."

Narrowing her gaze at the man and his threats, Valerie snorted indelicately.   "Evan, as much as I'd love to go along with you on this one, there is no way in hell I can properly plan a full wedding in three months!  I just can't!  It's impossible!" she insisted, judiciously ignoring the 'or less' part of his statement.

"V, baby, nothing's ever impossible, and you aren't really the type to give up without trying, now are you?"

She sighed.  "We're talking about floral arrangements, guest lists, tuxes, dresses—in Maddy's case, the right shoes, and you know that those could take the longest of all—the venue for the wedding, the venue for the reception, the catering arrangements, the cake arrangements, finding the right person to officiate the ceremony, hiring a service staff, interviewing and selecting a photographer, musical arrangements, planning the honeymoon, finding the right rings, booking flights and making travel plans for members of the wedding party that might not live nearby, not to mention the meetings with the real estate agent you hired . . ." Making a face as the list grew longer in her head, she had to wonder yet again if Evan had gone crazy at some point between last night and this morning.  "And even if we can do all of that, don't forget that you're supposed to be back in the studio in September, which means you'll need to have all your songs written and ready to go by then, too, and I happen to know that you haven't written a damn thing yet."

"Hmm, you're starting to sound more and more like Mikey," Evan pointed out.  "Relax, baby.  I got your back.  I'll even take care of the honeymoon, so don't even worry about that one."

Somehow, that wasn't nearly as reassuring as Evan probably thought it would be.  "We're looking at six months, tops, to get everything arranged," she told him flatly, "and even that is pushing it."

He glanced at her and then right back at the highway once more.  "Three months, V, or we head for the Justice of the Peace as soon as we get to Bevelle."

"Why such a rush?" she asked, leveling a pout at him that didn't work since he wasn't looking at her.

"A:  I'd like to go on that honeymoon before I hit the studio in September—something you've already pointed out.  B: We've been together for a while now, even if we weren't officially 'together', so I don't feel that it's rushing, in the first place.  C: you don't really want to get married in the fall; you've said so yourself, and D: if I give you too long, then you're going to change your mind; I just know it."

She laughed outright at Reason D.  "I'm not going to change my mind," she told him as though it were a foregone conclusion.

Evan wrinkled his nose.  "Are you sure?  I mean, you still don't believe that the whole youkai thing is the truth."

That didn't even deserve a comment as far as she was concerned.  "Three months," she said with a sigh, shaking her head, unsure if he was the crazy one for suggesting that she plan an entire wedding that fast or if he was the crazy one for putting that kind of limitation on the whole thing.  "You know, it's a good thing I want to marry you," she pointed out dryly.

He chuckled.  "Do you really?"

She shot him a look that stated quite plainly that she thought he was being dense on purpose.  "Do you think I don't?"

Offering her a bashful little smile, he shrugged.  "It's nice to hear it."

Crossing her arms over her chest, she scowled at the claws on his hands, currently wrapped around the steering wheel.  Shifting her gaze to his profile, her frown deepened at the point of his ear sticking out of his hair, at the sight of the fangs as he sang under his breath.

Those things . . . She'd seen them since that night, since he'd told her all of those things about the whole youkai thing, but things like that just weren't possible, and she knew that, too.  No one could possibly live as long as he claimed, no one could do the things that he had told her about.

"To my kind, when you find your mate, you spend the rest of your life making sure that that one person is happy because their happiness is your happiness.  It's not because we have to.  We do it because we want to."

She'd love to believe that, wouldn't she?  Would love to think that Evan would be hers, that he truly understood what 'forever' meant to her . . . The thing was . . .

It simply wasn't possible, was it?  Too good to be true, right?

And still . . .

She'd seen it for herself, hadn't she?  That cut on his hand was gone the next morning without even a trace that it had been there, to start with.  It was the same with his feet and the injuries he should have had—the ones she'd seen herself—from walking repeatedly through those shards of broken glass.

Part of her wanted to believe him because that would be the completion of the dream, and yet the pragmatic part of her simply could not, absolutely could not, trust in such things.

"What are you thinking about?" Evan asked quietly, drawing Valerie out of her musings.

"Oh, uh . . . We're almost there, right?" she said, ignoring the questions that were spinning around her head.

"Maybe another twenty minutes or so . . . I figured we'd stop by my house and get settled in before heading over to the old homestead."

"That's right.  You have a house up here."

He nodded.  "Yeah.  Miss and Daniel were staying there, but they found a place nearby."

"How's she doing?"

Evan made a face.  "As well as can be expected."  A sudden sense of sadness seemed to drift over him, and Valerie almost wished she hadn't asked.

A weird sense of foreboding crept up her spine.  "What does that mean?"

For a moment, he seemed almost startled at the reticence in her tone.  Then he smiled, though it seemed kind of forced, though why she thought that, she wasn't sure.  "Well, you know, just the shock of losing, uh, Dieter . . ."

Why did it feel like there was something he wasn't telling her . . .? "Shouldn't Miss be doing all right?" she asked quietly, carefully.

"Uh, y-yeah . . . Yeah, she should.  Of course, she should," he replied quickly, casting her a bright smile.  "Oh, hey, I have something to show you up here, too."

He was definitely avoiding something, but for now, she let it drop since she wasn't sure whether or not it was worth the confrontation.  Whatever it was, he'd tell her eventually.  He always did.  "What's that?" she asked instead.

"Well, I guess you could say it's kind of an early wedding present," he mused thoughtfully.

That got her attention quickly enough.  "Is that right?"

He nodded, turning his head long enough to give her that lopsided little grin—the little boy smile—that she loved.  "Yeah . . . I figured that I needed something to keep me busy for the next three months while you're planning the wedding."

She snorted but smiled, too.  "You're going to help me with that, Roka," she maintained.

He chuckled.  "I already did, didn't I?"

"Offering to plan the honeymoon wasn't exactly what I had in mind as far as 'help' is concerned."

"Well, there's that, too . . ." Another chuckle.  "But that's not what I meant.  I did already give you those cards."

She rolled her eyes but laughed.  Just yesterday, he'd given her three credit cards, all right, and all three bore the name 'Valerie Denning-Zelig'.  Three platinum cards, and when Valerie had asked him what they were for, he had simply laughed at her and dared her to try to max them out.

"Why do they say 'Denning-Zelig', anyway?" she asked.

Evan wrinkled his nose.  "Yeah, I realize that you told ol' Maverick that you weren't going to take his last name, and I'm willing to meet you halfway, but you've gotta take Zelig, too."

She smiled.  She'd actually forgotten that she'd told him any such thing.  "I . . . I like the name 'Zelig'," she ventured at length.

He blinked, shot her an anxious sort of grin.  "Yeah?"

"Hmm, yeah.  Besides, writing out 'Denning-Zelig' would take too long."

"If you're going to go through the trouble of changing your name, anyway, why don't you just change your first name to 'V'?"

"I like my name," she told him with a smile, "and it's kind of nice that only you call me that."

"Maddy does, too . . . and Bone and Mikey and—"

"And it all came from you," she concluded.

He grinned.  "Thought you hated it," he reminded her.

"It's grown on me," she admitted.  "Kind of like you."

"I'll grow on you, baby . . ."

Valerie rolled her eyes but smiled.  "But  I'll have you know, Roka, I have credit cards of my own, and I pay for them myself, thank you very much."

"Save your money," he told her, turning onto the road that ultimately led to the Zelig estate.  "Put it in a trust fund or something.  I'll be paying your bills, thank you very much."

"Hmm," she drawled, letting him know that the discussion wasn't actually over.

"There's the house that Miss bought," he said, pointing at a very nice, if not relatively small, cottage set back from the road amongst a sparse forest of evergreens.

"That's cute," she said, taking in the view.  Evan's house up here was about double the size of the one Evan had pointed out.  She hadn't seen the inside of the place, but he'd driven her past it while they were here for the announcement of Gin's pregnancy.

"Yeah, and not far from Bubby's.  He's been kind of keeping an eye on her."

For some reason, that surprised Valerie.  Maybe it shouldn't have.  "I didn't realize that he even knew her."

"He didn't until after Dieter died," Evan admitted.  Then he laughed, but there was a weird edge to the sound, like he found the entire situation somehow ironic.  "Just doing his job."

"What do you  mean by that?"

Evan gave a half-hearted shrug.  "Bubby's going to be the next tai-youkai," he said simply, as though it answered everything.  "Cain's the current one, and Bubby, as his oldest son, is the next in line."

It was true that Valerie didn't necessarily believe the youkai-thing.  That didn't stop her from being curious, though.  "What does that mean?"

"It means," Evan replied, turning down the long lane that led to his house, "that Cain's in charge of all the youkai in North America, so if they step out of line, he has to deal with the bullshit."

She laughed.  "You make him sound like some kind of law enforcement agent."

"Well, kind of . . ."

Staring at him for a moment, Valerie shook her head.  "You mean, he works for the police or the FBI or something?"

"No," Evan said, pulling to a stop in front of the house.  "I mean, he doesn't deal with humans; only youkai."

"Are you trying to tell me that youkai exist outside of the laws that govern humans?" she asked dryly.

"Not at all.  We're just as susceptible to them as the next guy, but there are certain things that the human authorities leave to us.  They might not know they're leaving them to us, but it happens."

"Things like what?" she couldn't resist asking despite the dubious tone in her voice.

"Certain crimes," he told her simply.   "Things like killing humans, especially if there are a lot of humans involved."

"Like serial killers?" she blurted as she got out of the car.

"Sometimes," he replied, pausing long enough to stretch his arms over his head before striding around to grab their bags out of the trunk.  "A lot of times when you read about serial killers who are never actually caught and all that?  Yeah, there's a good chance that they were youkai, and that the powers-that-be—Cain, most likely, at least, if you're talking about North America—took care of them."

Taking the handle of her suitcase and giving it a little yank to extend it, Valerie waited for Evan as he slung a couple others over his shoulders.  He only had one bag since he hadn't needed to bring a lot, so the others were hers, which he'd teased her about when he saw how much stuff she was bringing along.  "What do you mean, Cain took care of them?"

"Cain's got hunters—youkai who search out the ones who have done things that threaten our existences—things like murdering humans.  The hunters kill them."

She blinked, unsure if she was more surprised by the ease of Evan's explanation or the matter-of-fact quality in his voice when he had spoken.  "That sounds so cold," she said.

"Maybe, but it's necessary," Evan replied.  Unlocking the door, he pushed it open and stepped back to allow Valerie to go inside.  "But we're talking about youkai who have slaughtered helpless humans just because they can—a lot of them.  You don't end up on the hunt list just by killing one person, and you don't end up there just because you've disagreed with someone, either.  Because we are what we are, bringing harm to humans—hell, even just fighting with them—can get you into some serious trouble."

Letting go of her suitcase, Valerie pivoted on her heel to scowl at Evan.  "And these people . . . they just disappear?"

"Pretty much," he said, casting her a sidelong glance.  He must have seen the dubious expression on her face because he sighed.  Then he chuckled.  "You're not buying, are you?"

"Evan . . ."

He laughed.  "It's okay, V.  It's just a matter of time before you believe me."


"So, what do you think?"

Valerie blinked and turned to pin Evan with a droll sort of look.  "I think it's the same lighthouse you brought me to while we were here over Christmas."

Breaking into a very happy little grin, nodded vigorously.  "Yeah, yeah, yeah, but what do you think of it?"

Slowly shifting her gaze from one end of the run-down two story end, complete with the holes in the roof, the obscenely naked beams that peeked through the hold shingles, the crumbling chimney, the weathered and chipped paint that might have been white once upon a time but was now dingy and grayed, crumbling off of the old stones that reinforced the foundation of the old lighthouse, over the rising tower, lifting her chin and shielding her eyes as she stared up at the broken windows of the light room.

"I think," she said slowly, almost carefully.  "I think it's about ready for the wrecking ball."

Letting out a melodramatic sigh, Evan shook his head.  "Consider this: with the right contractor, the right crew that's knowledgeable in restoration, this place . . ." He laughed suddenly.  "This is where I want to be."

Exhaling in one loud gust, Valerie looked like she couldn't decide whether to completely nix Evan's ideas or if she ought to simply lend an ear for a while before she told him that what he wanted to do was bordering on impossible.  "It would cost more to restore it than it would just to tear it down and build a different house here," she pointed out in an overly reasonable tone.

"I know," he allowed.  "But it wouldn't be the lighthouse."

Taking a few steps forward, she shook her head again.  "That is not a three month project," she said.  "It's more like . . . ten years . . . maybe more . . ."

Evan grinned.  "Actually, the tower itself is pretty stable.  Had a guy from the historical society come out here with a couple building inspectors, and they said that the tower did need some work but not nearly as much as one might think.  It's the structure of the house that is the problem, but the inspectors both agreed that the actual supports of the house are sound, too.  It'll have to be gutted and everything replaced on the inside—floors, walls, ceilings, roofs—but that's not so bad.  One of the contractors I've talked to said that it wouldn't be too difficult to find salvage for most of the project.  I'd like to restore it, not just rebuild it."

She still didn't look entirely convinced.

Evan went on.  "If we do it right, we'll be able to refurbish it in the same design as it was originally built, and I've already gotten recommendations for a couple guys who are experts at this kind of thing—talked to a couple of them, too."

"Not to sound like a spoiled brat or anything, but I kind of like the modern conveniences," Valerie pointed out as she stared at the lighthouse with a thoughtful frown.

"We'll hide the modernizations so that it looks entirely authentic . . . It'll be beautiful—a perfect home for you."

She sighed, but he didn't miss the sudden brightness in her gaze.  She liked the idea; she was simply worried about the amount of work involved.  Slowly, she smiled.  "A lighthouse, huh?"

He shook his head.  "Your lighthouse."

Staring at the edifice for a long minute, then she let out a deep breath and shot him a sidelong glance.  "And you honestly think you can get this done in three months?"

"No," he admitted with a shrug.  "However, I am hoping that we can get enough of it done to move in after the wedding, though part of it will still be under construction.  We'll focus on making a livable space first, and then they'll be working on it while we're on our honeymoon, too."

Valerie opened her mouth then snapped it shut as she crossed her arms over her chest and leveled a frown at Evan.  "Why do you keep saying 'we'?" she finally asked.

Slipping his arms around her, Evan chuckled.  "I'm gonna help, of course!"

"You're going to—? Oh, boy," she sighed, rubbing her forehead as though she had suddenly come down with a massive headache.  "Evan, you know that I think you're a wonderful, amazing, talented man, don't you?"

His grin widened.  "You do?"

She nodded.  "But you're not a carpenter, and if you try to 'help', you're going to end up making more work for the pros, aren't you?"

"I'm really not bad with a hammer," he insisted, his amusement very evident.  "Trust me, V."

Blowing out her breath in such a way that she made a sound that was a fair imitation of a child playing with a plastic boat in a bathtub, she gave up with a shrug.  "You still have to help me with some of the wedding planning," she reminded him.

Evan nodded.  "No problem, baby."  Then he took her hand and led her toward the old lighthouse.  They didn't step inside, but he did settle back on a short stone wall that was crumbling in places further down.  Pulling her back against his chest, resting his chin on her shoulder, he sighed happily.  "I just want to marry you."

"August eleventh," Valerie mused, folding her arms over his.  "It seems so sudden."  Then she sighed.  "I don't know if I can get everything done in that short of a time."

He considered that and made a face.  In fact, he was about to tell her to forget the three months and to take as long as she needed, even if he did hate the idea of prolonging it, when she drew a deep breath, like she was ready to make some kind of resolution, and she squeezed his arms.  "What am I saying, right?  I mean, you're Evan Zelig.  The people around here bend over backwards for your family, don't they?  I've seen them do it.  They love your family."

"They love my mama," Evan corrected with a smile.

She craned her neck to gaze at him for a long moment, and then she finally smiled, too.  "Maybe it won't be as hard as I thought."

Tightening his arms around her, he chuckled.  He felt her shiver, which had nothing at all to do with the weather but might well have something to do with the feel of his breath against her neck, as he pulled her more securely against his chest.  "I have another idea," he ventured.

Arching an eyebrow, she looked like she was almost afraid to hear it, and that only made him laugh.  "What kind of idea?"

He smiled at her.  "Why don't you call your mama?  Invite her and your dad up here.  There's room at my house, and they're welcome to stay.  She can help you plan the wedding . . . and I'm sure that my mama will be happy to help, too.  No reason why you shouldn't have help, right?"

Biting her lip as she considered his idea, she was silent for a moment, staring at the lighthouse, though he got the impression that she wasn't actually seeing it, at all.  "Do you . . .?" she finally began, only to shake her head and sigh.  "Do you think they would?"

"I don't know," he replied.  "Can't hurt to ask, though, right?"

Scooting around, she slipped her arms around his neck, smiling gently as the sunlight gathered in her gaze.  "You really wouldn't mind having them?"

He made a face.  "Of course not, and besides, there are a few specialists up this way that your dad could see, too."

She nodded.  "I'll give them a call then.  Maybe when school's out for the summer . . ."

~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~= ~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~
'Wishin< /b>' and Hopin'' by Dionne Warwick originally appeared on the 1963 release, Presenting Dionne Warwick.  Copyrighted to Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
== == == == == == == == == ==
oblivion-bringr ------ vvkimbo07 ------ Lynzi18
Midcat ------ lovethedogs ------ amohip ------ sydniepaige ------ cutechick18 ------ tinywingedthing
Thought from Valerie:
A lighthouse, huh …?
Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic (will apply to this and all other chapters in Subterfuge):  I do not claim any rights to InuYasha or the characters associated with the anime/manga.  Those rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi, et al.  I do offer my thanks to her for creating such vivid characters for me to terrorize.